Every-Other-Day Chemical Accidents Are Tough to Swallow

At 8:55 p.m. on Friday, February 3, a hideously horrible sound erupted from the railroad tracks in East Palestine, Ohio. Screeching wheels and crashing train cars filled the air with loud, frightening noises that caused panic for those within earshot.

A Norfolk Southern train consisting of some 150 cars derailed near the Pennsylvania border. Twenty of those cars were carrying hazardous materials including vinyl chloride.

As soon as local officials understood that hazardous materials were involved, residents within a one-mile radius were evacuated. And emergency responses were launched from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

When 49 of the 51 derailed cars stopped crashing into each other and formed a train graveyard, some caught fire and ended up burning for several days.

It's estimated that 100,000 gallons of hazardous materials were dumped. Some found their way into the Ohio River basin, which feeds into several states.   

'Deeply Sorry,' But No Promises 

A few weeks ago, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan H. Shaw told the U.S. Congress he was "deeply sorry" for the effects of the derailment.

He added that he was "determined to make this right." But he did not promise to pay for long-term damage to the community when senators asked about consequences from the accident and future safety measures. 

And he did not endorse bipartisan rail safety legislation introduced recently. That legislation would strengthen notification and inspection requirements for trains carrying hazardous materials. It would also increase fines for safety violations by rail carriers.

One of the senators reminded Shaw that the rail companies turned to the federal government last year to settle a labor dispute. "You cannot ask the government to bail you out and then resist basic public safety," said Senator J.D. Vance, an Ohio Republican.

Vinyl Chloride ‚Äď Not an Air & Water Show You Want

As dramatic as the Ohio train derailment and chemical spill was, it was not as unusual as many think. Information supplied by the EPA and non-profit groups tracking these incidents reveals that chemical accidents occur every other day in the U.S., on average. 

In addition to train derailments, examples include truck crashes, pipeline ruptures, and industrial plant leaks and spills. 

Mathy Stanislaus is a former assistant administrator of the EPA's office of land and emergency management. He told the Guardian newspaper, "These kinds of hidden disasters happen far too frequently."

Another group ‚Äď the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters ‚Äď says these accidents occur even more often than every other day. And sometimes contamination comes from vinyl chloride, a flammable gas that can enter the air and drinking water supplies.

Patriot Pure Water Pitcher to the Rescue

Hey, I'll be perfectly honest. Train derailments causing chemical spills were not the first thing I thought of when we decided to provide a pitcher to take care of drinking water toxins.

But I did know there are many causes for contamination of the water Americans count on. And chemical accidents are one of them, which is why we made sure the Patriot Pure Water Pitcher could handle vinyl chloride.

In fact, testing shows that this pitcher reduces toxic vinyl chloride contaminants of 150 gallons of water by up to 99.6%. It doesn't get much better than that, folks. Of course, this pitcher does much more. It helps reduce 160+ contaminants, including fluoride, lead, chlorine, mercury, and radiological contaminants.

Simple to use, the Patriot Pure Water Pitcher has a one-gallon lower reservoir and a filter meeting National Sanitation Foundation standards. You might expect to pay well over $100 for a pitcher giving you great-tasting water and peace of mind. But our price is much lower for this survival gear must-have. 

200 Million People at Risk

The Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters reported 10 train derailments involving chemical contaminations in the U.S. in the past 2¬Ĺ years. Because trains travel over great stretches of the country, approximately 200 million people are at risk of the effects of a chemical spill.

It doesn't have to be a train derailment to poison our water. Last fall, a spill of caustic materials at a California recycling facility resulted in 300 evacuations and nine hospitalizations. An explosion and fire at a petrochemical plant in Louisiana resulted in residents being told to shelter in place.

In rural northern Kansas, a ruptured pipeline sent more than 588,000 gallons of diluted bitumen crude oil into the surrounding land and waterways.

Most chemical accidents occur at facilities where dangerous chemicals are used and stored. And there are some 12,000 of those facilities around the country. 

They include petroleum refineries, chemical manufacturing plants, and cold storage facilities. Plus fertilizer plants and water and wastewater treatment plants. The three states with the most chemical accidents are Texas, Louisiana, and California.

Safety Legislation Is Not a Given

You might think just about everyone would be on board with stricter regulations to lessen the number and impact of chemical accidents that mess with our drinking water and environment.

But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is among organizations pushing back on this. They say accidents are declining and most facilities operate safely. And that these facilities supply essential products and services providing jobs and driving the economy.

Other groups say proposed legislation doesn't go far enough to protect Americans. They've asked the EPA to strengthen the rules.

In other words, this isn't going to be settled for a while. We need to protect ourselves from the hundreds of chemical accidents occurring annually. One might be coming to a neighborhood near you soon. The Patriot Pure Water Pitcher is a great way to start.

Comments

  • Ruth Holewinski - March 29, 2023

    I’ll be ordering two pitchers, but I want to make one comment about the Ohio train disaster. I remember reading that the trains were set on fire by the govt to burn off the chemicals. That’s even worse if it’s true!

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